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L 171/12 EN Official Journal of the European Communities 7. 7.

1999

DIRECTIVE 1999/44/EC OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL


of 25 May 1999
on certain aspects of the sale of consumer goods and associated guarantees

THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND THE COUNCIL OF THE consumer confidence and enable consumers to make the
EUROPEAN UNION, most of the internal market;
Having regard to the Treaty establishing the European
Community, and in particular Article 95 thereof,
(6) Whereas the main difficulties encountered by consumers
Having regard to the proposal from the Commission (1),
and the main source of disputes with sellers concern the
Having regard to the opinion of the Economic and Social non-conformity of goods with the contract; whereas it is
Committee (2), therefore appropriate to approximate national legislation
governing the sale of consumer goods in this respect,
Acting in accordance with the procedure laid down in Article without however impinging on provisions and princi-
251 of the Treaty in the light of the joint text approved by the ples of national law relating to contractual and non-
Conciliation Committee on 18 May 1999 (3), contractual liability;

(1) Whereas Article 153(1) and (3) of the Treaty provides


that the Community should contribute to the achieve-
ment of a high level of consumer protection by the (7) Whereas the goods must, above all, conform with the
measures it adopts pursuant to Article 95 thereof; contractual specifications; whereas the principle of
conformity with the contract may be considered as
(2) Whereas the internal market comprises an area without common to the different national legal traditions;
internal frontiers in which the free movement of goods, whereas in certain national legal traditions it may not be
persons, services and capital is guaranteed; whereas free possible to rely solely on this principle to ensure a
movement of goods concerns not only transactions by minimum level of protection for the consumer; whereas
persons acting in the course of a business but also under such legal traditions, in particular, additional
transactions by private individuals; whereas it implies national provisions may be useful to ensure that the
that consumers resident in one Member State should be consumer is protected in cases where the parties have
free to purchase goods in the territory of another agreed no specific contractual terms or where the parties
Member State on the basis of a uniform minimum set of have concluded contractual terms or agreements which
fair rules governing the sale of consumer goods; directly or indirectly waive or restrict the rights of the
consumer and which, to the extent that these rights
(3) Whereas the laws of the Member States concerning the result from this Directive, are not binding on the
sale of consumer goods are somewhat disparate, with consumer;
the result that national consumer goods markets differ
from one another and that competition between sellers
may be distorted;
(8) Whereas, in order to facilitate the application of the
(4) Whereas consumers who are keen to benefit from the
principle of conformity with the contract, it is useful to
large market by purchasing goods in Member States
introduce a rebuttable presumption of conformity with
other than their State of residence play a fundamental
the contract covering the most common situations;
role in the completion of the internal market; whereas
whereas that presumption does not restrict the principle
the artificial reconstruction of frontiers and the compart-
of freedom of contract; whereas, furthermore, in the
mentalisation of markets should be prevented; whereas
absence of specific contractual terms, as well as where
the opportunities available to consumers have been
the minimum protection clause is applied, the elements
greatly broadened by new communication technologies
mentioned in this presumption may be used to deter-
which allow ready access to distribution systems in
mine the lack of conformity of the goods with the
other Member States or in third countries; whereas, in
contract; whereas the quality and performance which
the absence of minimum harmonisation of the rules
consumers can reasonably expect will depend inter alia
governing the sale of consumer goods, the development
on whether the goods are new or second-hand; whereas
of the sale of goods through the medium of new
the elements mentioned in the presumption are cumula-
distance communication technologies risks being
tive; whereas, if the circumstances of the case render any
impeded;
particular element manifestly inappropriate, the
(5) Whereas the creation of a common set of minimum remaining elements of the presumption nevertheless still
rules of consumer law, valid no matter where goods are apply;
purchased within the Community, will strengthen

(1) OJ C 307, 16.10.1996, p. 8


and OJ C 148, 14.5.1998, p. 12. (9) Whereas the seller should be directly liable to the
(2) OJ C 66, 3.3.1997, p. 5. consumer for the conformity of the goods with the
( ) Opinion of the European Parliament of 10 March 1998 (OJ C 104,
3
contract; whereas this is the traditional solution
6.4.1998, p. 30), Council Common Position of 24 September 1998 enshrined in the legal orders of the Member States;
(OJ C 333, 30.10.1998, p. 46) and Decision of the European Parlia-
ment of 17 December 1998. (OJ C 98, 9.4.1999, p. 226). Decision whereas nevertheless the seller should be free, as
of the European Parliament of 5 May 1999. Council Decision of 17 provided for by national law, to pursue remedies against
May 1999. the producer, a previous seller in the same chain of
7. 7. 1999 EN Official Journal of the European Communities L 171/13

contracts or any other intermediary, unless he has limitation on the period during which consumers can
renounced that entitlement; whereas this Directive does exercise their rights, provided such a period does not
not affect the principle of freedom of contract between expire within two years from the time of delivery;
the seller, the producer, a previous seller or any other whereas where, under national legislation, the time when
intermediary; whereas the rules governing against whom a limitation period starts is not the time of delivery of
and how the seller may pursue such remedies are to be the goods, the total duration of the limitation period
determined by national law; provided for by national law may not be shorter than
two years from the time of delivery;
(10) Whereas, in the case of non-conformity of the goods
with the contract, consumers should be entitled to have
the goods restored to conformity with the contract free (18) Whereas Member States may provide for suspension or
of charge, choosing either repair or replacement, or, interruption of the period during which any lack of
failing this, to have the price reduced or the contract conformity must become apparent and of the limitation
rescinded; period, where applicable and in accordance with their
national law, in the event of repair, replacement or
negotiations between seller and consumer with a view to
(11) Whereas the consumer in the first place may require the
an amicable settlement;
seller to repair the goods or to replace them unless those
remedies are impossible or disproportionate; whereas
whether a remedy is disproportionate should be deter-
mined objectively; whereas a remedy would be dispro- (19) Whereas Member States should be allowed to set a
portionate if it imposed, in comparison with the other period within which the consumer must inform the
remedy, unreasonable costs; whereas, in order to deter- seller of any lack of conformity; whereas Member States
mine whether the costs are unreasonable, the costs of may ensure a higher level of protection for the
one remedy should be significantly higher than the costs consumer by not introducing such an obligation;
of the other remedy; whereas in any case consumers throughout the
Community should have at least two months in which
(12) Whereas in cases of a lack of conformity, the seller may to inform the seller that a lack of conformity exists;
always offer the consumer, by way of settlement, any
available remedy; whereas it is for the consumer to
decide whether to accept or reject this proposal;
(20) Whereas Member States should guard against such a
period placing at a disadvantage consumers shopping
(13) Whereas, in order to enable consumers to take advan- across borders; whereas all Member States should inform
tage of the internal market and to buy consumer goods the Commission of their use of this provision; whereas
in another Member State, it should be recommended the Commission should monitor the effect of the varied
that, in the interests of consumers, the producers of application of this provision on consumers and on the
consumer goods that are marketed in several Member internal market; whereas information on the use made
States attach to the product a list with at least one of this provision by a Member State should be available
contact address in every Member State where the to the other Member States and to consumers and
product is marketed; consumer organisations throughout the Community;
whereas a summary of the situation in all Member States
should therefore be published in the Official Journal of the
(14) Whereas the references to the time of delivery do not European Communities;
imply that Member States have to change their rules on
the passing of the risk;

(21) Whereas, for certain categories of goods, it is current


(15) Whereas Member States may provide that any reim-
practice for sellers and producers to offer guarantees on
bursement to the consumer may be reduced to take
goods against any defect which becomes apparent
account of the use the consumer has had of the goods
within a certain period; whereas this practice can stimu-
since they were delivered to him; whereas the detailed
late competition; whereas, while such guarantees are
arrangements whereby rescission of the contract is
legitimate marketing tools, they should not mislead the
effected may be laid down in national law;
consumer; whereas, to ensure that consumers are not
misled, guarantees should contain certain information,
(16) Whereas the specific nature of second-hand goods including a statement that the guarantee does not affect
makes it generally impossible to replace them; whereas the consumer's legal rights;
therefore the consumer's right of replacement is gener-
ally not available for these goods; whereas for such
goods, Member States may enable the parties to agree a
shortened period of liability; (22) Whereas the parties may not, by common consent,
restrict or waive the rights granted to consumers, since
otherwise the legal protection afforded would be
(17) Whereas it is appropriate to limit in time the period thwarted; whereas this principle should apply also to
during which the seller is liable for any lack of clauses which imply that the consumer was aware of
conformity which exists at the time of delivery of the any lack of conformity of the consumer goods existing
goods; whereas Member States may also provide for a at the time the contract was concluded; whereas the
L 171/14 EN Official Journal of the European Communities 7. 7. 1999

protection granted to consumers under this Directive — electricity;


should not be reduced on the grounds that the law of a
non-member State has been chosen as being applicable (c) seller: shall mean any natural or legal person who, under a
to the contract; contract, sells consumer goods in the course of his trade,
business or profession;
(23) Whereas legislation and case-law in this area in the (d) producer: shall mean the manufacturer of consumer goods,
various Member States show that there is growing the importer of consumer goods into the territory of the
concern to ensure a high level of consumer protection; Community or any person purporting to be a producer by
whereas, in the light of this trend and the experience placing his name, trade mark or other distinctive sign on
acquired in implementing this Directive, it may be neces- the consumer goods;
sary to envisage more far-reaching harmonisation,
notably by providing for the producer's direct liability (e) guarantee: shall mean any undertaking by a seller or
for defects for which he is responsible; producer to the consumer, given without extra charge, to
reimburse the price paid or to replace, repair or handle
(24) Whereas Member States should be allowed to adopt or consumer goods in any way if they do not meet the
maintain in force more stringent provisions in the field specifications set out in the guarantee statement or in the
covered by this Directive to ensure an even higher level relevant advertising;
of consumer protection;
(f) repair: shall mean, in the event of lack of conformity,
bringing consumer goods into conformity with the
(25) Whereas, according to the Commission recommenda- contract of sale.
tion of 30 March 1998 on the principles applicable to
the bodies responsible for out-of-court settlement of
3. Member States may provide that the expression
consumer disputes (1), Member States can create bodies
‘consumer goods’ does not cover second-hand goods sold at
that ensure impartial and efficient handling of
public auction where consumers have the opportunity of
complaints in a national and cross-border context and
attending the sale in person.
which consumers can use as mediators;
4. Contracts for the supply of consumer goods to be manu-
(26) Whereas it is appropriate, in order to protect the collec- factured or produced shall also be deemed contracts of sale for
tive interests of consumers, to add this Directive to the the purpose of this Directive.
list of Directives contained in the Annex to Directive
98/27/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council
of 19 May 1998 on injunctions for the protection of
Article 2
consumers' interests (2),
Conformity with the contract

1. The seller must deliver goods to the consumer which are


HAVE ADOPTED THIS DIRECTIVE: in conformity with the contract of sale.

2. Consumer goods are presumed to be in conformity with


Article 1 the contract if they:
(a) comply with the description given by the seller and possess
Scope and definitions the qualities of the goods which the seller has held out to
the consumer as a sample or model;
1. The purpose of this Directive is the approximation of the
laws, regulations and administrative provisions of the Member (b) are fit for any particular purpose for which the consumer
States on certain aspects of the sale of consumer goods and requires them and which he made known to the seller at
associated guarantees in order to ensure a uniform minimum the time of conclusion of the contract and which the seller
level of consumer protection in the context of the internal has accepted;
market.
(c) are fit for the purposes for which goods of the same type
are normally used;
2. For the purposes of this Directive:
(d) show the quality and performance which are normal in
(a) consumer: shall mean any natural person who, in the goods of the same type and which the consumer can
contracts covered by this Directive, is acting for purposes reasonably expect, given the nature of the goods and taking
which are not related to his trade, business or profession; into account any public statements on the specific charac-
(b) consumer goods: shall mean any tangible movable item, with teristics of the goods made about them by the seller, the
the exception of: producer or his representative, particularly in advertising or
on labelling.
— goods sold by way of execution or otherwise by
authority of law, 3. There shall be deemed not to be a lack of conformity for
— water and gas where they are not put up for sale in a the purposes of this Article if, at the time the contract was
limited volume or set quantity, concluded, the consumer was aware, or could not reasonably
be unaware of, the lack of conformity, or if the lack of
(1) OJ L 115, 17.4.1998, p. 31. conformity has its origin in materials supplied by the
(2) OJ L 166, 11.6.1998, p. 51. consumer.
7. 7. 1999 EN Official Journal of the European Communities L 171/15

4. The seller shall not be bound by public statements, as — if the seller has not completed the remedy within a reason-
referred to in paragraph 2(d) if he: able time, or
— shows that he was not, and could not reasonably have — if the seller has not completed the remedy without signifi-
been, aware of the statement in question, cant inconvenience to the consumer.
— shows that by the time of conclusion of the contract the
statement had been corrected, or 6. The consumer is not entitled to have the contract
rescinded if the lack of conformity is minor.
— shows that the decision to buy the consumer goods could
not have been influenced by the statement.
Article 4
5. Any lack of conformity resulting from incorrect installa-
tion of the consumer goods shall be deemed to be equivalent
Right of redress
to lack of conformity of the goods if installation forms part of
the contract of sale of the goods and the goods were installed
by the seller or under his responsibility. This shall apply equally Where the final seller is liable to the consumer because of a
if the product, intended to be installed by the consumer, is lack of conformity resulting from an act or omission by the
installed by the consumer and the incorrect installation is due producer, a previous seller in the same chain of contracts or
to a shortcoming in the installation instructions. any other intermediary, the final seller shall be entitled to
pursue remedies against the person or persons liable in the
contractual chain. the person or persons liable against whom
the final seller may pursue remedies, together with the relevant
Article 3 actions and conditions of exercise, shall be determined by
national law.
Rights of the consumer

1. The seller shall be liable to the consumer for any lack of Article 5
conformity which exists at the time the goods were delivered.
Time limits
2. In the case of a lack of conformity, the consumer shall be
entitled to have the goods brought into conformity free of 1. The seller shall be held liable under Article 3 where the
charge by repair or replacement, in accordance with paragraph lack of conformity becomes apparent within two years as from
3, or to have an appropriate reduction made in the price or the delivery of the goods. If, under national legislation, the rights
contract rescinded with regard to those goods, in accordance laid down in Article 3(2) are subject to a limitation period, that
with paragraphs 5 and 6. period shall not expire within a period of two years from the
time of delivery.
3. In the first place, the consumer may require the seller to
repair the goods or he may require the seller to replace them, 2. Member States may provide that, in order to benefit from
in either case free of charge, unless this is impossible or dispro- his rights, the consumer must inform the seller of the lack of
portionate. conformity within a period of two months from the date on
which he detected such lack of conformity.
A remedy shall be deemed to be disproportionate if it imposes
costs on the seller which, in comparison with the alternative Member States shall inform the Commission of their use of this
remedy, are unreasonable, taking into account: paragraph. The Commission shall monitor the effect of the
existence of this option for the Member States on consumers
— the value the goods would have if there were no lack of and on the internal market.
conformity,
— the significance of the lack of conformity, and Not later than 7 January 2003, the Commission shall prepare a
report on the use made by Member States of this paragraph.
— whether the alternative remedy could be completed without
This report shall be published in the Official Journal of the
significant inconvenience to the consumer.
European Communities.

Any repair or replacement shall be completed within a reason- 3. Unless proved otherwise, any lack of conformity which
able time and without any significant inconvenience to the becomes apparent within six months of delivery of the goods
consumer, taking account of the nature of the goods and the shall be presumed to have existed at the time of delivery unless
purpose for which the consumer required the goods. this presumption is incompatible with the nature of the goods
or the nature of the lack of conformity.
4. The terms ‘free of charge’ in paragraphs 2 and 3 refer to
the necessary costs incurred to bring the goods into
conformity, particularly the cost of postage, labour and mate- Article 6
rials.
Guarantees
5. The consumer may require an appropriate reduction of
the price or have the contract rescinded: 1. A guarantee shall be legally binding on the offerer under
— if the consumer is entitled to neither repair nor replace- the conditions laid down in the guarantee statement and the
ment, or associated advertising.
L 171/16 EN Official Journal of the European Communities 7. 7. 1999

2. The guarantee shall: Article 9


— state that the consumer has legal rights under applicable Member States shall take appropriate measures to inform the
national legislation governing the sale of consumer goods consumer of the national law transposing this Directive and
and make clear that those rights are not affected by the shall encourage, where appropriate, professional organisations
guarantee, to inform consumers of their rights.
— set out in plain intelligible language the contents of the
guarantee and the essential particulars necessary for making Article 10
claims under the guarantee, notably the duration and terri-
torial scope of the guarantee as well as the name and The Annex to Directive 98/27/EC shall be completed as
address of the guarantor. follows:
3. On request by the consumer, the guarantee shall be made ‘10. Directive 1999/44/EC of the European Parliament and
available in writing or feature in another durable medium of the Council of 25 May 1999 on certain aspects of
available and accessible to him. the sale of consumer goods and associated guarantees
(OJ L 171, 7.7.1999, p. 12).’.
4. Within its own territory, the Member State in which the
consumer goods are marketed may, in accordance with the Article 11
rules of the Treaty, provide that the guarantee be drafted in one
or more languages which it shall determine from among the Transposition
official languages of the Community.
1. Member States shall bring into force the laws, regulations
5. Should a guarantee infringe the requirements of para- and administrative provisions necessary to comply with this
graphs 2, 3 or 4, the validity of this guarantee shall in no way Directive not later than 1 January 2002. They shall forthwith
be affected, and the consumer can still rely on the guarantee inform the Commission thereof.
and require that it be honoured.
When Member States adopt these measures, they shall contain
a reference to this Directive, or shall be accompanied by such
Article 7 reference at the time of their official publication. The procedure
Binding nature for such reference shall be adopted by Member States.
1. Any contractual terms or agreements concluded with the 2. Member States shall communicate to the Commission the
seller before the lack of conformity is brought to the seller's provisions of national law which they adopt in the field
attention which directly or indirectly waive or restrict the rights covered by this Directive.
resulting from this Directive shall, as provided for by national
law, not be binding on the consumer. Article 12
Member States may provide that, in the case of second-hand Review
goods, the seller and consumer may agree contractual terms or
agreements which have a shorter time period for the liability of The Commission shall, not later than 7 July 2006, review the
the seller than that set down in Article 5(1). Such period may application of this Directive and submit to the European Parlia-
not be less than one year. ment and the Council a report. The report shall examine, inter
alia, the case for introducing the producer's direct liability and,
2. Member States shall take the necessary measures to if appropriate, shall be accompanied by proposals.
ensure that consumers are not deprived of the protection
afforded by this Directive as a result of opting for the law of a Article 13
non-member State as the law applicable to the contract where
the contract has a close connection with the territory of the Entry into force
Member States. This Directive shall enter into force on the day of its publica-
tion in the Official Journal of the European Communities.
Article 8
National law and minimum protection Article 14
1. The rights resulting from this Directive shall be exercised This Directive is addressed to the Member States.
without prejudice to other rights which the consumer may
invoke under the national rules governing contractual or non-
contractual liability. Done at Brussels, 25 May 1999.

2. Member States may adopt or maintain in force more For the European Parliament For the Council
stringent provisions, compatible with the Treaty in the field
covered by this Directive, to ensure a higher level of consumer The President The President
protection. J. M. GIL-ROBLES H. EICHEL